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LUPINSKI: It's fall, so it must be pumpkin time!

Health & Fitness column

Kirsten Lupinski

Kirsten Lupinski

Everyone associates this time of the year with Halloween and, of course, that means … getting lots of candy.

Last year at this time of the year, I wrote my column about what to do with all the candy your kids collect for Halloween (besides eat it all). I just want to send out a little reminder this year that there are ways to donate that candy and “get it out of the house.”

A program that will allow you to donate your candy to troops overseas is called Halloween Candy Buyback. There are two ways this program works.

If you live near a participating dentist (the closest one to us is in Macon: MaconSmiles), you can take your candy to their office and they will buy your candy back and send it to the troops overseas.

If you do not want to drive to Macon with your candy, you can send it directly to the program sponsors at Operation Gratitude/Army National Guard, 17330 Victory Blvd. Van Nuys, CA 91406. You can find more information about this program at http://www.halloweencandybuyback.com/. This program is a great way to give back to the people keeping to those who are so deserving and also teach your children a lesson in the process.

Beyond Halloween and candy fall brings with it lots of new vegetables. An obvious one is pumpkin.

Of course, pumpkin pie is a favorite around this time of the year, but it is also not the healthiest version of a pumpkin treat that you can have. The downfall of pumpkin pie is not necessarily in the pumpkin, but the pie crust (of course).

So, I am going to give you a few yummy and health pumpkin recipes that will be perfect this time of the year. Keep in mind that canned pumpkin should be used to make these recipes and not the pumpkin that you scrape from the inside when you are creating a jack-o’-lantern.

One of my favorite muffins recipes are homemade pumpkin muffins. Easy to whip up and oh so yummy. Combine 1 ½ cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt and 1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice and set aside.

Whisk the following together; 6 tablespoons melted butter, ¾ cup brown sugar, 1 cup pumpkin pie puree (from a can), 1 egg, ¼ cup milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Mix the dry ingredients that you set aside into this mixture, place in greased muffin tins and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Another quick and easy recipe is pumpkin oatmeal. Put the following ingredients in a sauce pan or pot: 1 cup nonfat milk, ¼ cup brown sugar, ½ cup pumpkin puree, 1 teaspoon vanilla and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon. Bring to a boil and stir in 1 cup of oats. Reduce the heat and cook for 2-3 minutes.

This is a great, healthy breakfast on those mornings when you are running late but want something more than cereal and milk.

I hope you all enjoy these recipes and give them a try, and have a happy October!

Dr. Kirsten Lupinski is an assistant professor at Albany State University in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department. She has a B.S. in Nutrition from the University of North Carolina, an M.S. in Health Education from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate in Education from the University of Cincinnati. She has worked in the health education field in various capacities (corporate health, community health, college health and wellness and university education) for more than 15 years. She and her husband have three young children (5-year-old twin sons and a 2-year-old daughter).